A refreshing cold noodle salad really hits the spot during warm-weather days. When I think of noodle salads, “bun” (a Vietnamese rice vermicelli noodle salad) comes to mind. This dish also has fresh vegetables, lettuce, fragrant herbs, and includes some type of protein. The protein can be grilled pork, lemongrass chicken, shrimp paste, crispy tofu or even egg rolls. Nuoc cham, a Vietnamese dipping sauce made with fish sauce, ties the dish together. I love bun because it’s light yet satisfying with many layers of flavors and textures. Bun is the original “lean cuisine.”
Here is my version of bun using a chicken meatball recipe I created. My kids love meatballs, and these are made with Asian flavors that really compliment this noodle salad. The meatballs are so versatile that you can use them in a Thai curry, in Vietnamese sandwiches or serve them with rice and eggs for breakfast. The meatballs freeze well too so you can make them in advance and then heat them up in the oven before serving. Enjoy!
Asian Noodle Salad with Meatballs
Yield: 4 servings
1 pound of ground organic chicken
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon of grated ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large egg, slightly beaten
2 teaspoons of hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of oyster sauce
1/2 teaspoon of chili paste
2/3 cup of panko flakes
Mai Pham’s Vietnamese dipping sauce recipe
8 ounces of thin rice vermicelli (cooked and drained)*
1 ripe tomato, cut into wedges
1 Persian cucumber, cut into 1/4 inch circles
4 ounces of chopped romaine or baby greens
1/4 cup of thinly shredded carrots
1/4 cup of fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup of fresh cilantro leaves
1/8 cup of toasted peanuts, chopped
Lime wedges for serving
1. Mix the chicken, onions, ginger, cloves, egg, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce, chili paste and panko flakes until just combined. Don’t overmix or you will end up with tough meatballs.
2. Roll into 2″ meatballs. You should have roughly 16 meatballs.
3. Heat a 12-inch cast-iron or stainless steel pan on medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of oil. Brown on each side until you get a nice sear, which will take about 1 minute per side. Be sure to sear all sides as if it were a cube.
4. Place the meatballs in a paper towel-lined colander. Set aside.
5. To assemble the the noodle salad, place some noodles on the bottom of 4 serving bowls. Place some mixed greens on top and arrange the rest of the vegetables and herbs. Place 4 meatballs in the center and sprinkle the peanuts on top. Serve with the Vietnamese dipping sauce and lime wedge.
*Rice noodles come in different thicknesses. Make sure you use the thin rice vermicelli noodles and follow the cooking instructions on the package.